Advice for landlords
Your health and safety responsibilities as a landlord
As a landlord you must:
- keep your rented properties safe and free of hazards
- make sure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and well maintained
- provide an Energy Performance Certificate for each property
We use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, or HHSRS, (see below) to make sure all properties in Adur and Worthing are safe for the people who live there. This includes social housing.
If you rent out a property we may carry out an HHSRS inspection. This might be because your tenants have asked for an inspection, or because we have carried out a local survey and believe your property may be hazardous.
During an inspection we will look at 29 different health and safety areas, and score each hazard as either Category 1 or 2, according to its seriousness. Category 1 is the most serious.
If we find a serious hazard we can:
- issue an improvement notice
- fix the issue and then bill you for the cost
- stop you or anyone else using part or all of the property
What is the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is a risk assessment tool that is used by local authorities to identify potential risks to the health and safety of occupants in residential properties in England and Wales. It was introduced as part of the Housing Act 2004, and came into effect in England in April 2006.
It applies to all residential properties including private rented properties, council and housing association homes and owner occupied housing, as well as empty properties. It does not apply to caravans, tents and houseboats.
How a risk assessment works
The assessment method focuses on identifying the hazards that can be present in housing, including those relating to:
- inadequate heating
- pollutants, such as lead, carbon monoxide, asbestos
- the risk of accidents or falls
- the lack of safe escape routes in the case of a fire
Tackling these hazards will make more homes healthier and safer to live in.
Using the HHSRS operating guidance, Council inspectors assess 29 health and safety areas and score each hazard separately. Hazards deemed to be serious are Category 1, less serious hazards are Category 2. When assessing a hazard we look at the likelihood of an incident arising from the condition of the property and the likely harmful outcome. For example, how likely is a fire to break out and what will happen if one does?
The HHSRS is also a progressive standard; conditions that were acceptable when a property was built or converted may not be suitable or safe today.
For more information on the hazards and how are they assessed please see:
- Housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS): guidance for landlords and property-related professionals - on the GOV.UK website
Who does HHSRS affect?
The legislation affects all property owners and landlords, including social landlords.
Private landlords and managing agents are advised to assess their property to determine whether there are serious hazards that may cause a health or safety risk to tenants. Necessary improvements should then be carried out to reduce the risks.
Public sector landlords also need to incorporate HHSRS into their stock condition surveys. To be decent, homes should be free of Category 1 hazards. Landlords should incorporate HHSRS into their next planned stock condition survey and deal with Category 1 hazards during planned refurbishment.
If you are a tenant and have concerns about the condition of your home that your landlord has failed to address, you can request that the Council inspect your home under the HHSRS to make sure that it is safe.
The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 also came into force to make sure that rented houses and flats are 'fit for human habitation'; meaning that they are safe, healthy and free from things that could cause serious harm. It also enables you to take your own action against your landlord. To find out more about your rights as a tenant please see:
HHSRS enforcement and penalties
If Council inspectors discover a serious Category 1 hazard in a home, we have a duty to take the most appropriate action.
This could mean requiring that a landlord carry out certain improvements to the property; for example, installing central heating and insulation to deal with cold, installing a handrail to some steep stairs to address the risk of falls, or mending a leaking roof.
The Council can also prohibit the use of the whole or part of a dwelling, or restrict the number of permitted occupants. Where hazards are less serious, a hazard awareness notice may be served to draw attention to a problem. Where an occupier is at immediate risk, the Council can take emergency remedial action. Civil penalty notices of up to £30,000 can also be issued for offences such as failing to comply with a formal improvement notice.
If a property owner feels that an assessment is wrong they can discuss matters with the inspector, and ultimately will be able to challenge an enforcement decision through the Residential Property Tribunal.
The Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy details the enforcement options available to the Council:
Need assistance with this service?
Get in touch:
Private Sector Housing Team
Page last updated: 11 October 2022